Why Don’t I Love “Agents Of SHIELD”?

I really want to love the show.  I am a big fan of Joss Whedon.  I loved Firefly, Buffy, Dollhouse, and Agents Of SHIELD follows the same basic formula, an ensemble cast of oddball characters dealing with bizarre situations.

But I am currently about two episodes behind, and I don’t have any real desire to catch up.  Somehow there isn’t the same “gotta know what happens next” feeling that drove me to stay up late watching Firefly straight through.

I think a lot of it is the characters.  There are three characters I like (Colson, May, and Ward) and three characters that I don’t care for (Skye, Fitz & Simmons–I’m still can’t keep track which is which).  There really isn’t anyone that I really love–not in the way I loved Jayne or Kaylee or Xander or Willow or Topher.

Also, there isn’t the same feeling of risk.  Whedon isn’t scared to kill of characters, but I get the feeling that ABC is.  There was a scene a few episodes back in which the female Wonder Twin jumped out of an airplane without a parachute, but I didn’t feel like she was in any real danger because I knew that they would find some way to save her. (SPOILER: They did.)

And thirdly, I’m just not feeling the mythology.  I like the concept of superhero universes, and I think the idea of what effect the superpowered people have on ordinary folk is one that offers a very rich ground for stories.  Alan Moore played with that theme in Watchman and Miracleman.  Frank Miller used it in The Dark Knight and much of his work on Daredevil.

Somehow it’s not jelling for me in Agents, though, and I’m not sure why.  Part of it, I think, may be that the characters are too close to being superpowered themselves.  Again, there is the feeling that the world is too safe.  Buffy and her friends were always outnumbered and outgunned, and Mal’s crew was surviving by the skin of their teeth.

Colson, however, has the backing of a vast government organization.  May is practically a combat superhero, and Ward isn’t far behind her.  Fitz & Simmons are basically wizards, with Skye as a semi-omniscient seer.  Since they aren’t fighting against “real” superheroes, I haven’t gotten any sense that they have really been in a desperate situation.  Somebody was always ready to pull a rabbit out of a hat and save the day.

So, any fans of the show out there? Am I missing something?  Do you feel the same way about it?  Does anybody not loathe Fitz & Simmons?

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, On Promotion, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Why Don’t I Love “Agents Of SHIELD”?

  1. lackofharmony says:

    Ugh, I feel the same way. I’m not at all impressed with the show and, basically, quit watching a few weeks ago. My hubby was still hanging on to it, but I could care less. I’m more worried about Almost Human and hoping that it doesn’t get cancelled.

  2. Doug Daniel says:

    I’ve been meh about the show, too. I think you’re pretty spot-on about how there’s not the same sense of jeopardy as Buffy and Firefly. Which is disappointing– I very much wanted to see another good Whedon TV series, but this one has been uninspiring.

  3. SJ O'Hart says:

    I don’t *loathe* Fitz & Simmons, but – like you – I can’t tell which is which and sometimes I wonder why there are two of them, when one would do fine. I can’t bear Skye. I love Coulson, of course, and May, and everyone else I could happily do without.

    I agree that there’s not the same sense of urgency about the storylines, and I think you’re on to something with the idea that the team are, themselves, too powerful to ever really seem in danger. I’d never thought about that before, but there’s definitely a grain of truth in it. Shame, because I also worship at the altar of Whedon. 😦

  4. I haven’t watched it because something was iffy to me, so my opinion doesn’t go very far. I do hear a lot of griping about SHIELD in terms of not feeling like a real Whedon series or a real Marvel series. Almost like the two were incorrectly combined. As for character death, I think there will be a problem with that in this series. It’s ABC and Disney, which is rather lax on the death compared to Whedon’s other series. More importantly, it’s based off comic books where the afterlife has a revolving door policy for most characters. Even Aunt May from Spider-Man has beaten the reaper a few times. Hard to believe a character will stay dead in a Marvel comics series.

  5. Dave Higgins says:

    I like it, for what it is: light entertainment for geeks. In the UK it is shown mid-evening on a Friday, so the mix of humour, mild peril, and working out not whether but how they will solve an issue is good for easing into the weekend.

    I actually think having Fitz (M) and Simmons (F) was a good idea: there are too many series with a really competent techie/scientist/wizard/flangewrangler who can do everything; having two with different foci actually allows them to have more nuance than we sent the techie or we didn’t

  6. Alison J. McKenzie says:

    Completely agree. A friend from out of town just had to show me the series, and we watched about seven episodes of it. As soon as he was gone, I realized I didn’t feel like watching the next episode. For me, it’s entirely because I don’t care about any of the characters. Not even Coulson. I thought I’d love him, but I’m just as bored with him as I am with everyone else. There are characters I *like* but no one I feel any connection to, and if any of them died, I’d be okay with that. I feel like if I’ve spent seven hours of my life watching this show, I should at least care a little by now.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      And it’s odd, because Coulson was such a likable character in the Marvel films. But then, in the Marvel films he was the ordinary guy among the superheroes, which made him easier to like. The Agents version makes him more of a superhero.

      • Alison J. McKenzie says:

        Agreed. Also, I’m still early enough in the series that he as a character is still not sure who he is. He’s obviously going through some stuff mentally, which results in his personality going from point A to point B to point C and swinging back around again. I’m pretty sure that’s intentional to show his internal confusion, but the result is that he doesn’t feel like a cohesive character. He feels like three different characters, which is supposed to make me curious. Instead, I just don’t care.

  7. Keyser Soze says:

    Ok I feel I’m going to try to defend an indefeasible and/or was it doomed before it was started, but so be it?

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. feels or seems like a Whedon basic Formula, but truly it is not. Agents is a small cog in the wheel of the Marvel Universe, last night’s Assembling a Universe was a degeeked downed version to explained the whole thing without spoiling too much. It’s basically Coulson & Co. running around investigating stuff that doesn’t make sense.

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is like Angel after they were in charge of Wolfram & Hart & use of all their resources but most importantly without an ultimate evil. In Agents the “bad guys” are good guys turned bad. Think when Angel & Spike did Druslia or Darla’s biding. Then make sure nothing goes outside to far from the Marvel Universe. Then guest stars from other parts of the Marvel Universe steal the stage from Coulson & Co. Buffy, Angel, Firelfy & Dollhouse didn’t have limitations like that, also had one big storyline to move along where Agents have one ep & solved problems. The Clairvoyant is the only season long storyline.

    Since you are a few eps behind I won’t spoil what I feel was the best can’t wait to watch moment of the season then the show goes dark for 3weeks then air the conclusion then goes dark again to save eps for April sweeps aka commercial sales. This drives me crazy, BigCorpTV blah blah. I’m little surprised the Coulson’s death reveal that held over two eps wasn’t good enough for you, but I do understand your frustrations.

    I feel they stay away from the mythology to allow each movie to explain it to you separately. Like Iron Man has shrapnel in and/or near his heart and a devise he creates keeps it out and oh by the way powers his super-suit. I won’t carry one for the rest of them because I rant enough already, LOL

    The Fitz & Simmons situation – well I agree with Dave better to have two of them versus an all powerful Gandalf. (you said wizard so I couldn’t resist) . I personally enjoy all their banter it reminds me of some classic Whedon.

    Skye is the big part of the show but without going into much because you are behind I will just mention she is a 0-8-4 that was revealed earlier on. This is a cool part that has lots of whats next and what does all that mean. Think Willow before she knew she was a witch or knew she had powers. I think Chloe Bennet plays Skye well and she pulls off the humor and intensity. So if you don’t like Skye then it makes sense you aren’t that engaged.

    Joss isn’t the showrunner brother Jed and Maurissa are. This means to me Agents is Whedon like but not again truly Joss so it has another reason it’s not the same. So overall with BigMouse paying the bills its not all the bad and could be a whole lot worse. I say watch it for what it is and not for what is not. I enjoy it even if I’m wanting more from it. I always watch it day of or stay up late watching but that’s just me.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      Good points, and I agree with most of what you say, in theory. It comes down to a matter of taste, I guess, I had my pallet set for what I thought it could be, and find it difficult to appreciate what it is. As I said, I do intend to finish out the season at least, and I appreciate you being circumspect about the last couple of episodes. I’m willing to give it a shot, but so far it hasn’t grabbed me from the gate the way Firefly and Dollhouse did. (On the other hand, I really didn’t get into Buffy until the middle of the second season, so sometimes it takes things a while to get rolling.)

      Oh, and by the way, I was just watching The Usual Suspects, Mr. Soze.

      • Keyser Soze says:

        Agreed Taste! Which is why I love how there is different types of food, wine, movies, & TV shows. If everything was a boring *unnamed* Chardonnay that would make life sad. Avengers was good but Joss Whedon made it that much better. I like Agents & enjoy all the geekiness about it and get to geek out when its on. I think Whedon’s involvement makes it better. I’d love to hear your thoughts on eps S1ep13 Tracks, S1ep14 Tahiti, & S1ep15 Yes Men – cause I feel Agents is finally finding itself and will develop around Coulson new vigor after reveal and around Skye (Note holding back for Spoilers). I feel like Riversong when she first meets the 10th Doctor in the Silence in the Library ep. (Spoilers!! ) LOL

        I’d love to see Joss Whedon do a 10ep show for HBO or Netflix, I feel cable is where all the better shows are these days. Less BigCorp or BigMouse involvement.

        Yes The Usual Suspects is a great movie & story

  8. Myas says:

    There is something about Agents that never sat with me either. I stopped watching after I found out how Coulson was revived, it killed the show for me. That followed the woman in the flower dress, but for Coulson my thinking was along the lines of what happened to Pepper in Ironman – he was revived with that kind of regeneration until I found out otherwise.

    Maybe I need more than the mention of Thor or Coulson getting yelled at by Fury on the phone. It would have been ideal to tie in stories to the Avengers, Thor, Ironman, Captain America, Black Widow and the Hulk, yet remaining a separate entity. Even when Buffy and Angel went their separate ways their shows were linked, they popped into each other’s lives when supernatural, end-of-the-worldliness was going on. Cordelia showed up on Angel, so did Wesley and Spike.
    Xander was my favorite human, I preferred Spike to Angel.

    It’s like Agents of Shield is missing ingredients, one of them being salt.

  9. Ahh, what a topic. It’s a tricky one, because this is one of those shows that I enjoy watching, but I don’t go out of my way to do so. After a few weeks I’ll be bored and think “Hey, I haven’t seen Agents of SHIELD in a while, I should go watch them and catch up”. Whereas with other shows I’m watching the new episodes the second they air.

    You’re right — a big part of the problem is the characters. I, too, like Coulson, Ward, and May. I also quite like the guy scientist (Fitz? Simmons?), as I think he’s quite cute (I’m a girl! Give me a break!). Skye and female Fitz/Simmons, though … I don’t know. They’re just not doing it for me. I think part of it is like you said — they’re basically wizards, despite the fact that they don’t have superpowers. I know that “super hackers” have started to really annoy me as characters, especially after my brother started going to university for software engineering and likes to explain to me all the ways that hacking in TV and movies is totally inaccurate.

    As for the stakes not being high enough … yeah, I see that, for sure. Obviously you don’t want to just start knocking off characters like it’s Game of Thrones (there aren’t enough characters for that!), but every time they get into a life or death situation, I can’t help but think “Guys, you have a massive organization at your back — just call them and all your problems are solved”.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      I think the pseudo-science is one of my main problems, too. My field is physical security, not computers, but I do know enough about network security to recognize BS when I see it. You’re right, though, computer nonsense is endemic on television.

      And, like you, I do enjoy watching the show, but it just doesn’t grab me like I hoped it would.

      Fitz cute? He’s a baby! Ward, now, he’s some quality beefcake.

  10. My husband and I were discussing this with a friend earlier today. I think that Skye would be more of a thief archetype than a seer. I like the concept behind Agents of SHIELD but from the first episode on, the writers seem to be feeling their way around like they don’t have a clear plan of where the series is supposed to go. I guess I’d call them “pantsters” vs. “plotters”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it reminds me of LOST and that turned out well (insert sarcasm here).

    My husband’s complaint is we never know when there’s a new episode on. They showed a few episodes, went on a winter hiatus, came back, aired a couple shows, then did an hour-long commercial for Captain America 2… If you’re going to introduce a new series, play the whole thing out. Maybe if we give it another season or two, the show writers will find their footing and up the stakes so the team actually seems in real danger. Perhaps we’re entering that phase with the new “Uprising” sub-heading? What do you think?

    P.S. Fitz is such a cutie, but I’d rather be a Simmons than a Skye.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.